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Final Draft: The Collected Work of David Carr

af David Carr

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingSamtaler
182986,407 (2.5)Ingen

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I purchased this book at an independent bookstore. I picked it up now and then and read an esssay or two. I was not familiar with David Carr prior to buying this book. Regrettably it did not hold my attention. Most of the essays are dated going back to the 90s during the Clinton years. I saw an essay about Christopher Hitchens that caught my eye but not much else did. ( )
  writemoves | Oct 26, 2021 |
I discovered David Carr’s writing about five years after his autobiography, The Night of The Gun, was published. It was filled with roller coasters, hayrides, abject failures and successes, love, hate, and, mainly, with a deep reflection of what was real. David Carr could take the piss out of himself, which is, perhaps, what I find to be the most prominent quality in a person.

David Carr took no shit.

When he worked as editor he didn’t take it from his writers and he didn’t take it from his daughters, as one of them, Erin Lee Carr, recanted to and fro in her well-written memoir, All That You Leave Behind.

His autobiography was testament to where he had been as a journalist: a person who once wanted to be Hunter S. Thompson, but had since moved on. He had the rock ‘n’ roll in him, preferably sans drugs, and it came out on the page, well arranged, all the pieces in place.

This anthology, which is posthumously released, collects some of Carr’s earliest writing up to the last pieces he wrote in 2015, the year he died, including his syllabus for his students.

He was steeped in his recovery from alcohol and drug abuse and it showed from the start. Much like David Simon and the other people who made TV-show The Wire, Carr felt deeply about social issues and the people behind it all. And yet, he never fell away from properly reporting about his subject, however he may feel about it.

An early marriage to a supportive woman fell apart under the weight of drug abuse. I was losing track of my old friends. I began to think of myself as some kind of half-assed gangster, buying and selling drugs and intimidating those who didn’t have the money when I needed it.

One of Carr’s best talents was his ability to tersely convey a sentiment without pouring it into one big container of slime; he could be reminiscent without being smarmy, a talent that other writers often lack.

Brian Coyle made certain that his fight to live with AIDS became a very public one. Dying with the disease was necessarily a private matter. Coyle’s death took its course over two months in the Southside house he loved, in the Whittier neighborhood he fought for, in the city he helped lead.

My only gripe about some of the articles are that they’re snapshots of points in time which are not framed by context; when Carr writes for Washington City Paper, he gets personal on a level that is, frankly, a bit dull. The Neil Young interview is a bit of a hagiography verging on advertisement. Other than that, he keeps his flame burning.

His take on reality TV is still nice, as written in 2001:

French philosopher Jean Baudrillard suggested at about the same time as Real World’s debut that America had become little more than the sum of its mediated impulses. The nation as backlot is really just a matter of two worlds—one supposedly real and one a representation—finally meeting in the middle. Disney, having just completed Disney’s California Adventure, could finish the build-out with an assist from broader cultural forces. Add a few more cameras to those middle places, and you have a broadcast version of The Matrix, a collective hallucination that makes a sitcom seem entirely beside the point.

His writing on 9/11 is acute:

To have the attention of a nation is hardly novel in a city that’s been ground zero for more than a century. Living in the Mae West of municipalities, New Yorkers are used to people staring. People live here because they want to be noticed. But New York’s starring role in history’s most viewed piece of videotape—a whole new genre of terror porn—brings with it not just more notoriety but unwanted sympathy. New Yorkers can stand anything save the nation’s pity. However well-meaning, and however important for those who give and those who receive, the sympathy alters only the isolation of the tragedy, not its dimensions. And once the questions from distant relations switched from Where were you? to How are you? people here did not know how to respond.

As with the huge quantities of blood that arrived after the attack, New York is having trouble finding places to store all the consolation. Everyone in the city is so busy putting on a stiff upper lip—Damn that bin Laden and the disappeared 1 and 9 trains; I guess we’ll have to walk—that the embrace of our countrymen becomes one more thing to put up with. “The department moves forward,” one firefighter told me, speaking with more firmness than defiance, even as he dug for 350 of his colleagues two days after the towers fell. “This thing was around a long time before me, and it will be around a long time after me.”

His wife, Jill Rooney Carr, frames his writing best; from the introduction of this book:

In the aftermath of his death, I found that his words were still with me. I reread his magazine pieces, his spot-on profiles, his reporting in Hollywood for the Times (as the Carpetbagger, a mission he completed, mingling with show business media and film aristocracy in a $169 tux). David could go high, he could go low, and everywhere in between because he was fearless and deeply curious about the human condition.

This book should be read by persons who are not only interested in journalism, social issues, Carr himself, and the craft of both reading and writing, but also in gaining insight into modern-day American critical thought. ( )
  pivic | Apr 29, 2020 |
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